Two Blackhawk helicopters from the South Dakota Army National Guard landed at the Sanford Underground Research Facility in Lead this morning.
Their cargo, the 82nd Civil Support Team, is responding to a report of an unknown, potentially hazardous substance found on the campus.
"They discovered some objects that they felt uncomfortable about with the level of protective equipment they had on. So they retreated out of the building and called for assistance," Sanford Underground Research Facility Safety Specialist Woody Hover said.
"They requested us through the proper channels, for us to come up and assist them and help them identify what they came across inside of one of the buildings," Sgt. Alex Raber of the 82nd Civil Support Team said.
Thankfully it was only a drill. But, this training exercise is helping to build the working relationship between local authorities and the South Dakota National Guard.
"Mostly, we train for underground fires and underground first-aid types of emergencies, but are trying to expand our own training curriculum to include hazardous materials," Hover said.
"We don't come in here and take over the operations. We work for that incident commander, that fire chief, that police chief, whoever it might be designated to," Sgt. Raber said.
After getting briefed on the situation, two members of the 82nd don Type A Hazmat suits and head in. Every aspect of the operation is done according to a protocol designed to keep everybody safe.
"We train and train and train so that we are ready and we are prepared so if that ever does happen, it's not the best environment to go into, but we're safe about it and know what we're doing," Sgt. Raber said.
The 82nd Civil Support Team is trained to deal with everything from hazardous materials to weapons of mass destruction. The unit is based out of Ellsworth Air Force Base.